Archive for March, 2008

Power of Discouragement in the Heart

A great big “thank you” to all who have inquired about my missing blogs. I hate to report that it is because I just didn’t take the time to do it.

I’d love to whine about all the computer issues I have been having (as well as many of my friends), but I’ll spare you all that and just acknowledge the graciousness with which people touched base with me to ask about it!

Hopefully in the next few days, I’ll catch up to the readings where St. Philip’s is at, but until then I’ll just keep plugging along in 1 Samuel one chapter at a time!

Today’s chapter of 1 Samuel 27 shows signs of a discouraged child of God! The pressure of constantly running from place to place one step ahead of death finally took its toll on David. In spite of the Lord’s miraculous care for him, David’s faith wavered and he began to entertain doubts.

Would God deliver him from the hand of Goliath, only to deliver him into the hand of Saul? No, but circumstances have a way of distorting one’s outlook. Present dangers and cares often obscures the promises of God.

So David said in his heart “Now I shall perish…There is nothing better for me.”

Oh the power of words, especially those which we say in our heart. What we say in our heart has great power for good or evil.

  • If someone says in their heart, “God doesn’t care about me,” it will make a difference in their life.
  • if someone says in their heart, “I deserve better than this,” it will make a difference in their life.
  • if someone says in their heart, “I come before others,” it will make a difference in their life.

By the same principle,

  • if someone says in their heart, “God loves me and I don’t have to earn His love,” it will make a difference.
  • If they say in their heart, “I am grateful for every blessing I have,” it will make a difference.
  • If someone says, “Others come first,” it will make difference in their life.

David did accomplish his immediate goal of escaping Saul’s constant pursual of him. But now David is in a place of compromise. And though he looks quite content and secure, even finally having his own stable place (beats a camping in a cave) with his two wives to keep him company, this is a very dark period in David’s life.

Interestingly, according to my chronological Bible (which orders all the verses in the Bible in the order in which they happened), there are no Psalms that were written by David during this time.

During David’s 16-month stay with the Philistines, David made raids against
The Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites
David hasn’t totally turned against God and His people. For now, he only attacks the enemies of Israel. This probably gave David some comfort, but it is a small consolation to know that you aren’t as bad as you possibly could be.

In his raids, David killed all the men and the women, so his lie to Achish would not be exposed. Much later in his life, we will see a far more notorious season of sin with Bathsheba, and how he ended up killing Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to cover his sin.

Though that event is more famous, the root of sin that nourished it began right here in 1 Samuel 27. Here, many years before David killed Uriah to cover his sin, he kills these men and women in his raids to cover his sin. The roots of sin must be dealt with, or they come back with greater strength.

Remember the roots of David’s condition: this was a genuine crisis of faith, when he started trusting more in what he said in his heart (1 Samuel 27:1) than in what the Lord God said to him. David believed the lie that he was safer with the world than he was with God.

Thankfully, God did not bless David where he was at. But neither did God take away David’s calling or destiny to be the next king of Israel. God gave to David some of the mercy David showed to Saul.

Lord Jesus, gird up the my heart to be strengthened by Your words, and not the voice of circumstances and discouragement. Help me to be content to be a refuge rather than be satisfied to settle down in the enemy’s territory…and show me the difference!

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Saul & David’s Last Encounter

Just 3 chapters ago, the Ziphites attempted to betray David into the hands of Saul…it was a failure then and it is a failure again in this chapter (1 Samuel 26).
Saul’s behaviour begs the question “what does repentance look like?” I always think of Luke 17:1-5 when I am tempted to define repentance in a strict sense.
But in this case, let’s just say, the Saul seems to have gone back on his previous repentance shown in chapter 24. At that time, David had opportunity to kill Saul, but did not take it.
Abishai reminds David that God has granted this opportunity yet again. This circumstance was not an accident, God designed it – and the design was for David to take righteous vengeance upon Saul.
Abishai even makes it easy for David: Please let me strike at once with the spear.
David wouldn’t have to lift a finger nor in any way be a participant in the slaying of Saul. Abishai would do it, and David could say to himself and everyone else, “I did not kill Saul.”
Many were the people who tried to convince David that he had more righteous reason than ever to kill Saul. Now, Saul had gone back on a previous promise to leave David alone.
When I am in David’s position, I say, “I showed love and let him off once before. I’m full of love, but I’m not stupid. Saul had his chance and he blew it; this time, this opportunity is from God!”
But love, at least in the eyes of the world, will sometimes act in what the world considers to be a stupid way. Jesus said that we should forgive, and forgive, and forgive again (Matthew 18:21-22).
I would say that since Saul deserved it, it was the “right thing” to kill Saul. But if it was the “right thing,” this was the “wrong way.” Often when we have a right thing in front of us, we will be tempted to pursue it in a wrong way.
Jesus showed us how to refuse to pursue the right thing the wrong way. Jesus rejected Satan’s shortcut to the cross. Jesus never did miracles just to promote Himself. Jesus went the way of the cross instead. Jesus shows us that God’s way may be more difficult – but it is always better.

O God of Second Chances, (and 7 chances, and 70 chances), thank You for Your great patience. I pray for a David-like spirit again today. One that takes the high road despite counsel of those around me. I pray that I may be a child who represents that trait about You to others…a God of forgiveness and second chances!

Abigail’s Restrains David. Holy Spirit be my Abigail!

In chapter 24 I marveled at David’s restraint and strength to resist the temptation to wreak vengance against a man seeking to kill him.

In today’s chapter, 1 Samuel 25, I am reminded that beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I cannot stand against the enemy of my soul unless the Lord upholds me moment by moment.

Because in today’s lesson, David doesn’t show Nabal the same kindness and longsuffering that he showed Saul. In just the previous chapter, we saw how David spared Saul’s life, when Saul not only insulted David, but actually attacked him and tried to kill him. David was able to be victoriously kind and longsuffering to Saul, and yet, his guard cannot come down against the sin of vengance.

So this story of Nabal tells me that however long I may have been walking in recovery, or however often I may have onvercome one temptation or another, sin can strike in a single moment and crush me, unless the Lord intervene and protects.

Lord Jesus, Great Guardian of my soul, grant me David’s spirit from yesterday’s chapter, able to chose wisely despite the loss of a dream. Keep me from impassioned sin, and put an “Abigail” in my way whenever I strike out on a trail that will surely lead to disappointment.

“Blessed be the LORD, who has … kept His servant from evil!”

David knew the blessing here of being kept from sin. It surely is a blessing to be forgiven our sins; but it is an even greater blessing to be kept from sin.

Reminds me of how Spurgeon once advised about the need to seek forgiveness of our sins less often if we would seek the Lord more diligently to be kept from sin to begin with.

“There is no way of keeping out the fire of sin except by having the fire of grace blazing within the spirit. We must fight fire with fire.”

Oh Consuming Fire, purify and cleanse within. Let the fire of grace blaze within my spirit and raise my thoughts and actions up to You.

Even from God’s Hands…

I wonder how often faithful David dreamt about exacting revenge against that psychotic, murderous Saul.

  • Thought about it,
  • prayed about it,
  • dreamt about it,
  • plotted it…

only to erase it all from the white board of his mind, and say “Lord, Thy will be done.”

1 Samuel 24 is as if the schemings and scribblings from the white board, find a way into reality. The opportunity has been granted by the hand of God for David to pursue that dreamt-for “justice.”

And yet…

  • Even though Saul had injusticely put David on the run…
  • Even though Saul has his army pursuing David to the death…
  • Even though the situation was orchestrated by the Lord…
  • Even though he had the blessing and help of all those around him…
  • Even though he had God’s call to be tne next king of Israel…
  • Even though…

David chose the harder, more noble, and apparently more disappointing path.

He could have had all of Saul (freedom, dream come true), but instead he only took a corner of the robe (continue as a fugitive).

He again erased the vengance notion from the white board of his mind, and said, “Lord, Thy will be done.”

It cost David.

  • He continues to be haunted and hunted.
  • He continues to wander in the wilderness with just a rag tag army.
  • He continues to experience the promise of God become further and further away in his life.

Oh Lord Jesus, grant a David-like Spirit in my life. One that is satisfied with only a corner of the robe, (if even that is right), and leaves the rest into Your hands!